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N.H.'s LandCare Associates Inc. Capitalizes On 'Staycation' Trend

Thu October 07, 2021 - Northeast Edition #21

LandCare Associates’ material yard is compact with space at a premium, making traditional forklifts less than the ideal solution for moving materials.
LandCare Associates’ material yard is compact with space at a premium, making traditional forklifts less than the ideal solution for moving materials.
LandCare Associates’ material yard is compact with space at a premium, making traditional forklifts less than the ideal solution for moving materials. The JCB 437 loads tens of thousands of yards of material to be screened each year. LandCare Associates purchased a JCB Teletruk with extend-a-boom and 4-wheel drive from Alta Equipment. Loads are handled that could never be dealt with using a traditional forklift. LandCare Associates’ outdoor showroom gives customers hundreds of material applications.

LandCare Associates and Stratham Hill Stone is a leading supplier of stone, brick, granite and hardscape materials — as well as softscape materials, mulch, loam, compost — to northern New England's hardscape contractors.

The company — which has been in business for 36 years — has seen strong growth, particularly over the last couple of years with the popularity of the "staycation" concept.

"More and more people want their backyard to be something to anticipate coming home to. We have become a society that enjoys staying home, and as a company we have been able to capitalize on that. We supply nearly anything anyone would need to complete any landscape or hardscape project," the company said.

LandCare Associates' market area includes the seacoast area and lake regions of New Hampshire, southern coastal Maine and parts of Cumberland County in Maine, as well as the north and south shores of Massachusetts. LandCare has marketed itself as the place to go for natural stone and said it has sourced the finest materials from throughout New England, New York and Pennsylvania.

By maintaining a massive variety of inventory, LandCare has successfully been able to keep a customer base of not only some of the most prestigious landscape and hardscape contractors in New England, but also a large amount of foot traffic from the homeowners. It does this by making available the same quality products that it offers in bulk to contractors in smaller quantities for the do-it-yourselfers.

According to Dan Moynihan, sales manager at LandCare Associates, "The secret sauce to their success is their focus on making the customer's lives easier. The vast majority of our employees have worked in the field as a contractor and those that have not have the skills to tackle at-home projects. Yes, we sell the products to get a job completed, but more than that, we offer the advice and know how to make that project run smoothly."

As is the case with any material supplier the size of LandCare Associates, it has a significant material yard that requires equipment for moving, loading and unloading some pretty heavy loads. To accomplish those needs LandCare Associates has relied on Alta Equipment Company.

The relationship started with the purchase of a used JCB excavator and has since expanded to the purchase of a JCB 437 loader, a JCB 407 loader, and most recently, two JCB Teletruks (telescopic counterbalanced fork trucks).

"Our yard has a very small footprint, making parts of it challenging for a standard loader," Moynihan explained. "At times, we need to stack our pallets so close together that a standard loader is not practical.

"For some time, we have discussed purchasing something more similar to a forklift, but with an extended boom, yet with a very small footprint. When the Alta Equipment sales rep pulled into our yard with a Teletruk, we were pretty sure he brought us exactly what we needed.

"After having used it for some time I will tell anyone in our line of work that is willing to listen that you are foolish not to own one of these things. We were so happy with the purchase we immediately bought a second. The Teletruk offers extreme maneuverability and great lifting capacity. We no longer have to move five pallets to get to one. Both of our yards have areas that are not paved. Fork trucks would immediately get stuck. The Teletruks are 4-wheel drive and eliminates that entire worry."

"With the help of the machines that we have acquired, moving equipment around our yard has become much easier, particularly in the constricted areas," added Daniel Gordon, founder of LandCare Associates. "We are able to literally pluck pallets that are two, three and four deep, which saves us a lot of time and manpower."

At LandCare Associates, safety is of the utmost importance, both Moynihan and Gordon stressed.

"We would never want to lose an employee to an injury that was ultimately avoidable, and we put a very high premium on avoiding a situation like that," Moynihan said. "These machines are very safe; the visibility is incredible as well as the stability. You can feel extremely comfortable lifting a 4,000-pound pallet."

"Safety is paramount," Gordon added. "You hear those words from a lot of companies, but here we really do take it seriously. In this day and age of constricted labor and a severe shortage of labor you are also working with an older labor force. I believe the average worker is 45 or 46 years old.

"I want our work for them to go easier for them, not harder. That was my motivating factor when buying some of this equipment. It's got all the bells and whistles and safety protections. My guys are very experienced and have good wisdom. They can sit in a piece of equipment for many hours a day and now enjoy an air conditioned or heated cab with 4-wheel drive and be completely safe while they are operating. It really is about working smarter not harder, especially as your work force gets harder to find."

LandCare Associates' first experience with JCB was a used model JCB JS200 excavator.

"We screen our own loam and that's what we use the excavator for," Moynihan said. "It runs continuously, breaking up piles to feed the screening plant. The JCB JS200 was perfectly matched for our needs."

LandCare Associates screens between 45,000 and 50,000 yards of loam annually. The performance from the excavator and the support from Alta Equipment gave it the confidence it needed to purchase some loaders from Alta when the time was right, the company said.

A big part of the reason LandCare Associates purchased its JCB 437 loader was for snow removal. According to Moynihan, it was the perfect machine, correctly matched for what they needed it to do.

"We didn't need a monster machine; we needed a maneuverable, nimble machine that could clean up our yard, and that loader was ideal."

What has impressed Moynihan the most about its purchase of the JCB machines is the service that LandCare has received from Alta Equipment.

"Last winter we had a parts failure on the loader, just as a storm was moving in. I called the parts and service department and was told the part would be shipped for next day delivery from Chicago. Later that evening, I got a phone call from the service manager telling me that the part wasn't going to make it, but to make sure that we would be able to clear snow with the storm coming in, they were going to drive down to their Connecticut store and cannibalize one of the inventoried machines in Connecticut and get the part up to me before the storm hits, which is exactly what happened.

"I've been around the construction industry my entire life and that's how things used to be done and it's the way things should be done, and I am so impressed that's the way Alta Equipment still does things.

"Our sales rep, Ryan Sears, has been absolutely great to work with. I can call him with a question on virtually anything. Sometimes, I will call him instead of calling the service department because I know I can get him on the phone immediately, and he will have the answer, or he will get it for me very quickly. My customer base is landscapers and contractors that use this same type of equipment and on a regular basis I recommend Alta Equipment and JCB."

"We have about 3,000 customers come through our doors a year and it's not unusual for them to notice the JCB machines and have them ask if we would recommend JCB or whether or not we are happy with the machines," Gordon added. "The answer is always the same, yes we would absolutely recommend JCB and Alta Equipment.

"Our experience with the JCB equipment has been phenomenal. On the rare occasion that we have had an issue, Alta Equipment has immediately taken care of us. Alta Equipment seems to run their business much like we run ours. I look at our team and consider it an A+ team. We surround ourselves with people who have a long history specifically in the hardscape and materials industry.

"We keep the proper levels of inventory to support our customers, well in excess of $3 million worth. We want to make sure that our customers keep fishing from our pond and have no reason to go elsewhere. Maintaining these standards is not always easy. As an example, COVID has made it very difficult to get certain types of imported materials. We have responded by working harder to source more and more of our materials domestically, which is better for everyone involved," Gordon said. CEG

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